Graduates from Argyle High School took part Monday in the first of a series of graduations to take place at Texas Motor Speedway this spring.
“This is really an honor to be able to play a little role in a big day for these graduates,” said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway. “They didn’t think it was going to happen, any kind of ceremony to honor their accomplishments.”
Gossage said Denton County Judge Andy Eads came to him with the idea, “and next thing you know, 14,000 students are going to get their diplomas here in the next two weeks.”
TMS will host 36 graduation ceremonies in the next two weeks. Argyle High School was the first, with 220 students in its graduating class.
Students sat in chairs 6 feet apart on the straightaway on the track of the Texas Motor Speedway. They listened to the traditional speakers and then received their diplomas underneath a tent from a faculty member who wore gloves and a mask.
“I’ve got to be honest, I know they wanted to do normal graduation, every student does, but these students are going to have an adventure they can tell their kids about and their friends about for the rest of their lives,” Gossage said.
Their families watched from their cars in the infield of the racetrack on the "Big Hoss TV" and listened to the ceremony on the radio.
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"I know it's not the traditional one, but that will actually make it more memorable," Argyle High School valedictorian Sonali Gandhi said. "It's a little funny when you look back at it in the future, and I know a lot of schools aren't even able to have a graduation, so the fact that Argyle ISD is putting in the effort to have a day to honor every graduate is amazing."
Gandhi said she planned to study biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas in the fall.
She said the graduation was also a good chance to see here peers again.
“I haven’t seen anyone in the past three months, so it will be really exciting to see everyone,” Gandhi said.
“I’m very excited that the students at Argyle High School are having an opportunity,” Argyle ISD Superintendent Telena Wright said.
Wright said these the district has navigated uncharted waters over the last 10 weeks.
“Things have been very different for the graduating class of 2020,” Wright said.
She expressed her gratitude to Texas Motor Speedway for allowing them to have the ceremony.
“Graduation is a rite of passage for high school students," Wright said. "It’s the last time that this particular class of students is gathered together, it’s important for the students and also for the parents, for the grandparents, other family members the friends and of course for the faculty and staff who have worked with."
“If schools want to do this again after we do this this year, we’ll be happy to talk with them," Gossage said. "It’s not going to be perfect and not ideal, but I think it’s a pretty cool concept."